Let’s get this out of the way up top: of course the Mets should consider trading Ike Davis, in the right scenario. They should consider dealing anyone in the right scenario. David Wright is terrific, but would you deal him for Ryan Zimmerman, who is younger and signed to a more affordable deal than Wright likely will be? R.A. Dickey is great, but would you deal him for Gio Gonzalez, who is much younger and signed long-term? Ruben Tejada is a fine shortstop, but would you deal him for Jurickson Profar, the all-world prospect from Texas?
The answers to all of these questions is yes, I believe. So the issue here isn’t that Ike Davis, who Adam Rubin said could well be traded this winter. Lucas Duda would play first base instead.
Presumably, Davis would be dealt for prospects, or to address the Mets’ paucity of major league caliber outfielders, perhaps address catcher, and though I’d hope not, perhaps to address problems in the bullpen. Dealing the known quantity which is Davis’ production to date for the speculation of bullpen arms would be most distressing.
However, the problem isn’t that trading Davis for competent outfield help is so outrageous, given the team’s current situation. Lucas Duda is probably a perfectly average answer at first base. And as I’ve written here before, Davis and Jon Niese are two tradeable commodities that can address other areas of need.
The problem is that the very reason they are valuable to other teams-young, cost-controlled players with significant upside and an established, locked in rate of production-should make them valuable to the Mets, too. And the reason the Mets would need to trade them is because the other avenues of building a team-specifically, money to fill any other holes-have been eliminated under current ownership.
So even though Niese and Davis would not only help the Mets in 2013, but stand a good chance to help in 2014, 2015 and beyond, the Mets would consider dealing them to either address gaping holes in the major league roster that could be filled by free agency with solvent ownership, or a farm system that simply hasn’t developed everyday players ready to contribute at the major league level anytime soon.
Instead, they’d be pushing the reset button again. Prospects who are almost ready could contribute by 2014, or they could not. The hope would be to bunch as many of them together as possible, and put together a core of Matt Harvey, whichever other pitching prospects develop (Zack Wheeler is the best of the bunch, by far), and… I guess Ruben Tejada.
Is that a contending team in 2014? I guess, maybe. Possibly.
It’s sure not as likely to be one as if the Mets kept Davis and Niese around, building with their young, cost-controlled players who already have panned out. But that’s the new reality for the New York Mets. Jose Reyes and David Wright might not be in their price range anymore (or Wright might not stick around, even if they find a way to afford him). And even the recent successes from the farm system, the new building blocks, are simply trade chips themselves.
But don’t mistake the fact that the Mets have Lucas Duda, a reasonably good hitter who might fake his way through first base, as some kind of organizational strength to trade Davis from, any more than trading Niese because they have a few pitching prospects is dealing from strength. Look around baseball. These aren’t positions of massive talent. They only look that way compared to what the Mets have on hand at, say, outfield, or catcher.
Meanwhile, in a perfectly Mets twist, there’s the unnamed organizational source in Rubin’s article trashing Davis’ work ethic. You could build an all star team of the guys the Mets have publicly disparaged on their own roster. It is self-defeating, and yet never seems to stop.